I walked into Venue, with eager anticipation for the artists about to take the stage. Strolling through the music hungry crowd, it was clear to me this was a nostalgic group. The humble hipsters, stood awkwardly, awaiting the stage light to illuminate the first guest. It was setting out to be a great night, and I was excited to see what was in store.
Standing by the left of the stage, I was privy to the pre-performance antics of Brendan Benson, while he and The Posies members engaged in a few laughs. They soon sauntered up to the platform and swaggered into the first song. Mr.Benson is a modest man, and the pieces played were a real reflection of that honesty and realness. His voice has something that seems to be missed on the recordings, a gentle vibrato that sends a chill through your soul. On his work with The Raconteurs, they emphasize this vocal uniqueness but it seems to be missing from his personal recorded work.
During the compendium of melodic articulation, Brendan peaked with his track on Garbage Day, off of the My Old, Familiar Friend album. The sweet soul gently flowed over the mesmerized group before him. I was taken back at how personal the song felt live, that throaty rumble made for a intimate edge and brought new life to an already great song.
The only issue with the entire performance put forth by this Michigan native was what seemed like constant standing around. Just like the radio, you cannot have dead air while you entertain a crowd during your show, but this seemed to plague this night. Be it a half minute or so here and there, it still took a lot of air out of the audiences commitment. It had many turning back to the bar to refill their drink, or take this time to find a washroom. But besides this small snag it was a great presentation, and Brendan Benson is a true heartfelt musician, with a touch of class and a playful heart.
I retreated to the safety of the merchandise area, between bands, while the swarming horde ventured from the stage front to yet again refill and relieve. Perusing the items for sale it was the usual shirt-poster-cd compilations, but with of course the vinyl drops that always accompany the indie scene shows. Something that makes the hipsters go “whoopie I’m ironic and different” while in fact managing to be ironically conformist and predictive.
Again I brought my self over to the left side of the stage area and stood in wait. The Posies took to the stage in true 90s fashion. Leaping and springing to and fro with gusto and spirit. Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow were grinning from ear to ear, with such elation from the band mates, it quickly spread through the venue, at Venue. Some dedicated Posies fanatics, began leaping around oddly, reminiscent of British punk years, as if the music took over their bodies. It was strange yet it brought a smile to my usually sour puss face. To be so consumed by something so organic is a beautiful thing.
The Posies were fun to watch, they constantly kept moving making for a sense of excitement. Both Ken and Jon took turns leaping between riffs, enough so that I bet they were exhausted by the mid point of the show. This group is one of the bands that fell into that “Grunge” demographic, but they don’t really meet the criteria from my perspective. They are a cohesive unit, with deep melodic riffs, clean and captivating vocals and have a far more emo feel lyrically then anything the 90s grunge machine usually contained.
The overall appreciation by the audience was grand. They, and I, were hugely appreciative of the display we just witnessed. Brendan Benson was a surprise, with his soul riveting presentation. The Posies were filling, they kept attacking the night with song after song. Jon Auer was the prince of observational humor throughout the night, making small spoken reflections that consistently engaged people in variating levels of laughter. All in all I was impressed, my anticipation was met with the silver-platter delivery of a great rock show. The Posies with Brendan Benson was a sigh of relief over the seemingly drab exhibitions that usually take place come year end.
(The Posies With Brendan Benson photographs by Jamie Taylor)